Böttcher Lab


Chronic liver diseases are characterized by liver inflammation and -fibrosis, major risk factors for liver cancer. Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, innate like T cells enriched in the liver, are known as crucial mediators of hepatic inflammation. Therefore, Katrin Böttcher's research group is aiming at deciphering the role of MAIT cells for the development of liver disease. We focus on understanding the metabolic regulation of MAIT cells and how their metabolism and effector function are affected by the local microenvironment in the liver. We hope that unravelling the role of MAIT cells for local immune regulation in the liver will ultimately lead to novel therapeutic approaches against liver diseases.


Lab members

Dr. Katrin Böttcher, MD, PhD, PI

While studying Medicine at the University of Bonn, I became fascinated by the unique immune system in the liver. Following my medical degree, I set out to do a PhD at University College London, where I started working with MAIT cells, my favourite immune cells. Having discovered that they are contributing to liver inflammation and fibrosis development, I now want to understand their role for local immune regulation in the liver better. My group is therefore working on the metabolic regulation of MAIT cells and how they are shaped by the hepatic microenvironment. 

Guilty pleasure – Listening to cheesy playlists while cooking

Sebastian Deschler, PhD student

I obtained my Master’s degree in Biochemistry from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. For my PhD, I am now investigating the role of MAIT cells in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and want to understand how the metabolic environment in NAFLD shapes MAIT cell biology and function.


After work I enjoy drinking a beer with my colleagues while playing traditional Bavarian card games or playing table tennis duels at the nearby park.

Sophia Erlacher, MD student

During my studies in Medicine at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, I developed a fascination for the immune system of the human body, especially in the context of fighting acute or chronic hepatitis B virus infection. Understanding the mode of action of the immune system and the role of individual immune cell populations, such as MAIT cells, harbours the potential to discover new therapeutic strategies. Therefore, I want to decipher MAIT cell function and their role for chronic HBV infection.

In my spare time, I like to play basketball, go to art museums and to philosophise with friends.

Dr. Juliane Kager, Clinical Research Fellow

During my studies in Medicine at the Medical University Innsbruck, I became interested in liver immunology, especially in the regulation of LDL-Cholesterol levels in the liver by Kupffer cells. Having started to work as a clinician at the University Hospital rechts der Isar, I am now happy to continue doing research as I investigate a tissue resident MAIT cell population in liver.  


Guilty Pleasure - snoozing the alarm (and then being in a rush….)

Junika Pohl-Topcu, PhD student

Throughout my studies of Molecular Life Sciences in Lübeck and the Netherlands, I was always interested in the miracles of the immune system and how it protects us on a daily basis. In 2019, I came to Munich for an industry internship on vaccine development. As life goes, I stayed in this beautiful city and started a PhD project investigating the role of MAIT cells in hepatocellular carcinoma. 

In my spare time, I make an effort to learn Turkish. 

Julius Weber, FJN

Growing up, my favourite subjects were Chemistry and Biology. During the Corona Pandemic, I learned a lot about the immune system by reading many news articles. That’s how I became really curious about understanding how the human body and especially the immune system works. Luckily, in school I heard about the FNJ program which offered me to experience the scientific work at the ‘Klinikum rechts der Isar’ for one year. 

In my spare time, I love to travel and explore places all around the world. 

Joseph Zink, MD student

During my medical studies at the Technical University of Munich, I discovered my interest in the complex field of immunology. I am currently investigating the influence of MAIT cells on hepatitis B virus infection, in particular the effect of antiviral treatment on the MAIT cell function.


Outside of work, I enjoy spending my time in the nearby mountains or with friends at the Bavarian lakes. 


Current Funding

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Einzelförderung, TRR179

Deutsche Krebshilfe

Completed Funding

Else Kröner-Fresenius Stiftung

Kommission für Klinische Forschung

Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Bildung und Forschung

European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL)


Tel.: +49 89 4140 9328

E-mail: katrin.boettcher@mri.tum.de

Division of Translational Gastrointestinal Immunology (TGI)

Klinikum rechts der Isar                                                                             University Hospital of the Technical University Munich




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